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Structural engineers were originally considered part of the civil engineering branch. As a result, many of your duties as a structural engineer overlap with civil engineers'. Your workday consists of overseeing the design, analysis, building, and maintenance of load bearing structures. With increased spending on road construction and other building activity, the demand for structural engineers in Canada is on the rise.
Structural engineers spend much of their time in the field at job sites where roads, bridges, dams, plants, condos, and other structures are being constructed or renovated. Though you're well-versed in theoretical engineering principles, you also have hands-on job experience on construction sites. You most likely work standard daytime hours, though they may vary slightly depending on the project you're working on.
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Demand for structural engineers is fairly consistent across Canada, with western provinces seeing a slight edge over eastern provinces. The weakest market is Quebec, where starting salaries dip well below $60,000. This is a pattern we see with all engineering jobs in the province, however. That said, as a structural engineer, you should have no problem finding work anywhere in Canada.
Structural engineers divide their time between design review and site visits. As a structural engineer, some of your daily tasks will include:
Structural engineers will find they can work in either the public or private sector, in engineering firms, public administration, residential, commercial, and industrial construction, amusement park design, manufacturing, and transportation.
Currently, the strongest demand for structural engineers in centered in Canada's western provinces, though there are some exceptions, such as Toronto. Cities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton are where your best job prospects lie. Salaries in these cities are significantly higher than in most eastern provinces. If you haven't already, it may be worth considering a move to western Canada to take advantage of the much higher compensation.
Given the hands-on nature of structural engineering jobs, many employers prefer candidates with experience in a co-op program for entry level jobs. For more intensive projects, several years of experience may be required. As a structural engineer, you'll need to be an expert in building codes and engineering. Employers look for candidates who:
Structural engineers must have a Bachelor's degree, usually in civil engineering. A graduate degree in structural engineering is a plus, and will likely be a necessity to advance your career. Given the strong international flavor of Canada, candidates who speak multiple languages have an especially bright future in this field.
Engineering is a regulated profession in Canada, so you'll also need to be properly licensed. Obtaining your engineering license indicates that you have all the educational requirements, supervised work experience, and training needed to perform your job to a professional standard. In most Canadian provinces, this certification is P.Eng, though the exact title varies.
As a structural engineer, you can advance to senior engineering and supervisory positions. Since you work in a multidisciplinary environment, you may decide to move into other related fields as you gain experience. For example, structural engineers often move into city planning, other engineering disciplines, sales, management, or even law.
With increasing concern for safety, weather-resistance, and environmental impact in the construction industry, structural engineers are more in demand that ever. Having the complete package of education, experience, software expertise, and problem-solving skills will help an upcoming structural engineer go far.